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‘Favourite day of the week!’: Rise helps Nick, 7, get back to school and doing the things he loves

Nick* is a regular seven-year-old boy in year two at primary school on the Central Coast.

He loves NRL, playing outside, and being with his friends. He’s an active kid and shows no fear! When he gets hurt, he shrugs it off like a little superhero.

Nick also has a dad in custody.

He has a great relationship with his dad and idolises him. Unlike many children his age with a parent in custody, he understands where his dad is and why, and they speak on the phone and visit often.

Despite this good relationship, being away from his dad is still very hard for him. The stress and trauma his family has experienced have resulted in emotional regulation difficulties, and he struggles to express his feelings in appropriate ways.

Before mentoring

When he started our Rise mentoring program, the behavioural issues had gotten to the point where he’d been suspended seven times in just one term of school and was at risk of being expelled.

He was also only attending school for half days because of the level of care he needed to remain safe and happy in the school environment.

His school was eager for Nick to participate in Rise, seeing how beneficial it was for children in similar situations, and he was on our waitlist for some time, so it was a great relief to his teacher, family, and mentor when he was able to start the program at the end of last year.

A new term brings a new chapter

Nick’s SHINE for Kids mentor set about establishing a trusting relationship with him and worked closely with the school’s wellbeing advisor to learn more about his needs.

From day one, Nick and his mentor ‘clicked’, and he never complained when it was time for their sessions. “Nick enjoys our weekly sessions that we share together, with never a disagreement,” said his mentor.

After just one term of sessions, his teachers had already noticed a marked improvement in his behaviour, and from multiple incidents a term, there was only one in the entire term he and his mentor were working together.

“We are going steadily, and there’s been lots of positive feedback from his classroom teacher and the school principal. They tell me that his attention span is where it’s meant to be, and he’s acting more positively with his peers.”

His mother, too, was overjoyed to see the sessions’ impact, saying, “Having you at school is truly his favourite day of the week, [knowing] he can see you, which shows how good you are with him because those moments are rare.”

Back at school the whole day!

The biggest testament to his progress is that Nick’s behavioural issues have improved enough for him to return to full school days!

This is a huge relief for his family, who no longer need to collect him early. It also means he can join classes held only in the afternoon, such as scripture and science, which he was missing out on before.

His friendships have also improved. “He’s a lot calmer at school, and I can see he has a sense of belonging that he didn’t before,” says his mentor.

He’s even participating in team sport! “Nick plays on a rugby team outside school and trains with his team members twice a week. His enthusiasm is very strong when he speaks of his rugby sessions!” says his mentor.

Supporting a child supports a whole family

We were also able to help Nick’s family, who are under financial stress with a parent and income earner in custody, by providing new school uniforms so that all the children can go to school with their heads held high.

Nick’s mentor has built a lovely relationship with his mother, who is very grateful that he’s now participating in the program after being waitlisted for so long.

“The family is a pleasure to work with,” said our mentor, “On Mother’s Day, I even received a thank-you message from Nick’s mum saying, ‘I hope you had a special day yesterday with your kiddos. You certainly helped make mine special!

“Nick’s family have always been so positive about the program and share many beautiful messages with me, written in cards and thank you texts.”

“I’m also helping Nick’s family to access counselling and specialist help as the family has been through so much,” said his mentor.

While there is still some way to go, Nick is happy and improving his emotional regulation with every passing day.

He’s counting down the months until his father is released, and when this time comes, which will surely be full of big emotions, he’ll have his mentor’s full support.

Thank you to The Benevolent Society for supporting this program. 

*Names and images are changed to protect program participant’s identities.

‘Favourite day of the week!’: Rise helps Nick, 7, get back to school and doing the things he loves

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